High stakes at Cunningham House?

The UUP is dithering over whether it will take its places on the policing board.The only law ever passed for Northern Ireland since partition that directly discriminates against a religious group, the 50:50 rule, wasn’t enough to stop the UUP from signing up to the Policing Board the last time but the argument over one seat on the Board could this time.

The disagreement gets even curiouser as the independent nominees include Joe Byrne of the SDLP and Trevor Ringland of the UUP. Both parties have got three nominees by different routes. Also if Sinn Fein joins the Policing Board Joe Byrne and Trevor Ringland will probably remain but if they had been political nominees they would have been replaced by the two republican nominees.

The sabre-rattling is high stakes for Empey who has played a bad hand reasonably well since assuming the leadership. However, the Hermonites were incensed by the withdrawal of the UUP councillors from the Belfast District Policing Partnership following the anti-Parades Commission riots in September.

Backing down after repeatedly raising the issue will not communicate strength. Boycotting could cause internal problems. Perhaps, the UUP believe the circumstances that will get Sinn Fein on to the Policing Board will force the DUP off vindicating their boycott and showing them in the lead of Unionism? Whichever of the three it is, it will offer an answer to the question now how big is the UUP and its leadership willing to gamble?

  • steve48

    The issue is that the government has overturned commitments that the policing board would always have a political majority. The board is now effectively a quango appointed by the minister and if this continues under the devolution of policing and justice powers (if ever) can cause problems down the line.

  • unnamed

    The party political ind’s passed you by last time didn’t they? Kelly? Brookeborough? Can’t remember the DUP one.

  • observer

    the 50:50 rule didnt stop the DUppers going onto the board either, they used to say they would leave if SF came on board, funny how they can sit there with the PUPs – good terrorist, bad terrorist it seems!

  • fair_deal


    “the 50:50 rule didnt stop the DUppers”

    Indeed it didn’t. With the DUP as the smaller party its absence wouldn’t have meant much and because of its stance on the Agreement just been ignored. A boycott would only have been significant if it was both Unionist parties and the UUP turned the proposal of a joint boycott down.

  • unnamed

    Still we have 50:50, still we have the DUP going on the board………

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Can’t remember the DUP one. ”

    That’s cos as usual there wasn’t one. Funny how the NIO has moved on from doling out the quango jobs to the irrelevant Alliance to ..er doling out the quango jobs to the irrelevant UUP.

    BTW, can steve48- or Councillor Stephen Nicholl of Antrim UUP tell us how he’s getting on in persuading the UUP to change its policy on the Agreement, and how accepting a job from Reg is helping to achieve that?

  • observer

    fair deal:
    “With the DUP as the smaller party its absence wouldn’t have meant much and because of its stance on the Agreement just been ignore”

    This just shows the DUP have no morals whatsoever

    either 50:50 is wrong or it isnt. It shouldnt matter whether your the biggest or smallest party. The DUP stayed in then and theyre still there today. they have no principles

  • fair_deal


    “have no morals” “50:50 is wrong or it isnt”

    Participation or not on a policing body is not about the morality etc of the 50:50 rule it is what are the most effective political means to effect its abolition – the best means was a joint Unionist boycott but this was refused.

  • Elvis Parker

    I think its touching that Slugger still reports the opinions and (non) decisions of the UUP

  • Comrade Stalin

    No definitive comment from most of the Slugger unionists concerning the failure of the DUP to distance themselves from the UVF’s proxy seat on the Police Board. So much for standing up to the terrorists.

    Comrade Stalin